On a Mission: Foreign Service Specialist

On a Mission: Foreign Service Specialist

How one woman found her dream career working at the U.S. Department of State


by #teamEBONY, July 18, 2012

On a Mission: Foreign Service Specialist

State embassies overseas.

EBONY: Where are some of the places that you’ve traveled to so far?

Chimere: Hmm, let’s see. I’ve actually had the chance to travel quite a bit during my time with the Department of State. I’ve been to about 16 different countries including Kyrgyzstan, Luxembourg, Mexico, and Peru. I also served in Dakar, Senegal while I was covering seven other embassies in seven other countries, ranging from Guinea-Conakry to Cape Verde.

EBONY: Is it all “work and no play” overseas?

Chimere: Well, it is true that a career as a Foreign Service Specialist or Officer is challenging, but you do have time to enjoy yourself. Personally, I was involved in quite a few embassy activities. While I was in West Africa, I ran the concession stand for WAIST (West African Invitational Softball Tournament) and I found other small groups that I could join locally.

EBONY: How do you find activities to enjoy yourself?

Chimere: Whenever I’m assigned to a new post, I try to attend local concerts and events to help immerse myself in that culture. And I’ve found that doing so helps me make friends, too. So, you can definitely make a social life for yourself overseas.

EBONY: Can you tell us about some of the experiences or adventures you’ve had?

Chimere: My time with the State Department has blessed me with experiences beyond my wildest childhood dreams. My Specialist training brought along a lot of firsts for me: first time repairing various security systems, first time shooting a gun, first time purposely wrecking a car (defensive driving), and the first time traveling abroad. It also afforded me the pleasure of meeting Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Dr. Condoleezza Rice. To be able to do that was just incredible for me. Basically, I was looking for an opportunity that challenged me and offered me the opportunity to learn something new every day. And let me tell you, the U.S. Department of State has not disappointed!

EBONY: Can you tell us one of your success stories?

Chimere: Hmmm…that’s a hard one. I mean, when you work here, you’re pretty much set up for success. Between all of the training and opportunities for mentorship, you really have the chance to shine. Let’s see…well, my very first overseas tour took me to Dakar, Senegal, where I actually replaced the SEO who recruited me!  And let me tell you, those were some big shoes to fill! I adapted to a culture that was completely different from what I knew, all while exercising “technical diplomacy” with my U.S. and Foreign National technical security counterparts. I also oversaw eight employees in the Engineering Service Center (ESC) Dakar and provided technical security support and advice to seven other U.S. Embassies in West Africa.

EBONY: What do you like most about being a Foreign Service Specialist?

Chimere: Well for me, I thrive on challenge and excitement. And working here has been a very educational and challenging experience for me—but pretty rewarding as well. It definitely got me out of my comfort zone, and gave me the opportunity to serve and represent my country overseas without carrying a gun. And ultimately, that’s what keeps me going —and happy—at  the State Department. The ability to learn a new skill or learn to wire up an alarm system by myself beats working in a cube 24/7. And truthfully, there’s always something exciting going on.

EBONY: So, what’s next for you on the job?

Chimere: This fall I will be transferring to my fourth posting with the Department of State, which will allow me to focus on computer security. I’ll also have the chance to give back to the Department by recruiting potential SEO candidates at various colleges and universities. And, of course, I’ll be recruiting at the NSBE National Conventions where I began my career.

EBONY: What would say to people interested in working at the U.S. Department of State?

Chimere: You know, I meet quite a few engineers at career fairs, and I always tell them the same thing. Yes, I know there are quite a few avenues for engineering careers, but if you want a job that’s truly an out-of-the-box experience, I recommend joining the Department of State. It’s an incredible experience.

If you want to learn more about the U.S. Department of State and the information that Chimere shared, visit their website at careers.state.gov.

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